How to Keep Going When Storms Keep Coming that Might Rend You in Two

So a storm can slam up the willing side of you and you can think the reverberations might kill you.

Sure, somebody usually goes ahead and names the hurricanes.

They christen those spinning monsters with their one steady eye swirling out storm. Katrina and Sandy, Irene and Audrey.

But there are weary women who can’t name their storms — can’t name their prodigals and the pain no one sees, the sickness no one speaks of and the masks they have to keep. Their are women who can never name their storm out loud — they just taste the looming black of them in the back of their flattened throats and try to breathe.

The day my sister’s storm smashed her, her body shuddered in these unstoppable waves of contractions. She was 29 weeks.

It’s a startling thing to witness: a breaking heart can break down a whole body.

A storm can come straight out of nowhere on your blithest day— your clearest day can turn on you, turn to downpour. Can turn to a slash of lightning, the devour of thunder. It can happen — pain out of nowhere.

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Pregnant

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She calls me to say I have to come now through the dark, now.

There are storms that you can smell the damp on the wind, you can see the underbelly of destruction lowering down over you, like the sky might rent in two, like this thing might rip open your soft and dreaming places and tear you right apart.

I huddled her 5 little girls and we laced hands and sang songs like they could whisper a storm to sleep. Her good husband held on to her for dear life. I kept counting, subtracting the minutes off the clock, the time it’d take the ambulance to get her the 2 hours to the university hospital where they’d try to hush the rolling tsunami her heart had started.

I slept on their couch. I didn’t sleep.

They can tell you that doctors or debt magicians or some psycho-powder or miracle pill can neatly neutralize your storm, but yeah, we aren’t buying it: All storms only still to the sound of One Voice.

And sometime in the thinning wee hours, the waves of labor calmed to a fragile truce. We exhaled. We paced. The storm season had just started. Could we somehow grope through another 7 weeks before the contraction waves pushed our Little Flailer up on shore and into our arms?

Could we refuse to let this storm, far angrier than any one could see with their naked eye, destroy us? Could the Little One just stay calm and wait on God’s timing? It’s what we all have to do, just that. We watch ultrasound screens like worn sailors watch the radar, watch the skies. Would we get another 7 weeks? Would we get this baby at all? That’s always what’s lurking: Tomorrow could vanish in a storm.

Sometimes I found it hard to swallow.

Sometimes there are tornadoes ripping us apart that no one sees because they never see them touch down. We hold onto 5 little girls while their parents held on in a sterile hospital room. We keep getting up every morning. There are hens to be fed. There are 5 big eyed little girls that needed us to keep coming in reassuring shifts for weeks.

Sometimes God will calm the storm for you, but sometimes God will calm you for the storm.
Sometimes God calms the storms — and sometimes the storm stills swirl and He calms our fears.

In the middle of one of the early longing night, I send my sister the one song that I have on repeat:

In my wrestling and in my doubts
In my failures You won’t walk out
Your great love will lead me through
You are the peace in my troubled sea
You are the peace in my troubled sea

My Lighthouse, my lighthouse
Shining in the darkness, I will follow You
My Lighthouse, my Lighthouse
I will trust the promise,
You will carry me safe to shore

There’s preeclampsia. There’s leaking amniotic fluid. There’s nausea and vomiting and dehydration and IV and high blood pressure and hospital transfers and fevers and there are howling tears.

Though the skies kept rearing up, rent and torn by gashes of lightning, though the hard black rains just kept coming unleashed by the sky like a bewildering fury, my sister and I are mirrors who just keep singing it —- My Lighthouse, my Lighthouse, I will trust the promise, You will carry me safe to shore.

On Easter Resurrection Sunday morning, I stand with my 5 little nieces in our country chapel, call my sister’s hospital bed, turn it to speaker, and hold that phone high like a beacon, like light in this relentless dark, and she lays there and is carried by a whole church singing resurrection light loud and sure. Seriousness isn’t a fruit of the spirit — joy is. And we’re called to be about the serious business of joy — the art of celebration. And the art of celebration becomes a masterpiece on the canvas of storms. 

Always somewhere, somewhere, above the clouds, light never stops shining.

And the swells keep pounding: My sister texts me from the back of an ambulance less than hour before we were to host my brother and his fiancee’s wedding shower. We serve cupcakes to guests and light candles and smile fiercely, that song playing brave in the background: Fire before us, You’re the brightest — You will lead us through the storms.

And when my brother gets married a week later, 6 1/2 hours from home, I stand in the second pew and hold the phone up on speaker so my sister could hear my brother’s marriage vows from her enforced bed, her hands quieting her swelling side under a dark and swollen sky.

We all grow weary of drama that we’re utterly helpless to stop.

And that is what stops us short:

It’s in the middle of drama that He can take our lines.

It’s in the middle of drama that He can twist the plot and wring out grace.

It’s in the middle of drama that Christ can play in ten thousand places.

Storms can be a stage for epic light.

On a Friday of week 6 of this thing, my sister texts me: ‘When do you get back?’

‘Monday — I will be home Monday night, Lord willing. You have to wait till I get back.’

It’s on repeat here: You are the peace in my troubled sea, You are the peace in my troubled sea

‘I don’t really get to decide these things — but I will try to hold this off till you get back Monday.’

In between Friday and Monday, there’s a KLOVE radio invite to Nashville with a few of our kids to keynote to this year’s award nominated musicians at The Artist’s Luncheon, to present the award for female artist of the year, to gather with the other authors who are nominated for Book Impact of the Year and to stumble into what turns out to be a surprise party for One Million copies of One Thousand Gifts.

And on the Friday night, I’m sitting at the Opryland between our Joshua and Hope and there’s The Rend Collective, flown across the pond from Ireland, up there playing the one refrain that’s split our storm for the last 6 weeks: My Lighthouse, my Lighthouse, shining in the darkness, I will follow You.

Lighthouse Beagle Channel—Faro Les Éclaireurs

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Collage

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Alderney's Lighthouse

The Rend Collective keep throwing out a lifeline that collected all of us into a brazen determination to keep on in the face of a storm threatening to rend us apart.

I can hardly sing —

There’s a rending of a heart that collects you back to God.

Somewhere in a crowded back room, I run into The Rend Collective’s Gareth Gilkeson and Chris Llewellyn and I shake their hands in an awkward gratitude, stammer out something about how it’s never the storm that is your enemy; it’s always the oversight to be prepared for the storm that’s your enemy.

When Hope and Josh and I make the trek back to the farm, I carry my Scripture memory verses in hand, lingering over truth in ticket lines, at boarding gates, knowing that what my heart knows by heart is what my heart knows. Storms can come out of nowhere —- pain out of nowhere. 

Through airports, quietly memorizing just that : “Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents —  but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (Jn 9:3) There are storms that are only dark canvases for God’s lightning glory. 

Hope sits close to me at the gate in Chicago. Monday — we’re almost home. Rain pelts the expanse of window hard, the tarmac slick, the sky a weeping greening black. The Farmer emails to pray for rain at the home farm, rain by Monday or we’ll have a bean crop that will need replanting. “Rain — please, Lord, rain please at home?” Hope squeezes my hand tight.

All sun can kill us and there are storms that bring the rains we need to survive.

And my sister texts us waiting for the last leg home from Chicago:
“In labor.

Baby today.
Love you.”

“Wait — I’m not there yet. Almost. Almost back home.”

“Give me my labour speech again?”

And I smile as the sky’s rent with rain. I’ve coached her through how many of the 5 babies with just this?

“See yourself as a bag of sand. And there’s a hole rent in your toe. Let all the pain run through the broken and rent places.”

My sister’s labored storm comes out of nowhere on my screen: “Yes. That.”

“No bracing against the wave after wave of pain. No stopping the storm coming. No fighting it. Just breathe and let all the pain leak out that rent hole. Let the pain do resurrection, life-giving work through the broken and rent places. Breathe. Just breathe. Every breath is the sound of His name. And let all the pain leak out all slow.”



Rend your heart and not your garments (Joel 2:13).
Rend your heart so you can be wholly God’s.

Her last words before we board: “Tell me when you land.”

We fly through rain all through the winging east.

And after I land, it’s there on my screen: “He’s here.” HE!
After perfection in pink 5 times —- he’s here — perfection, the blue version.

12 minutes later we’re at the city hospital and there are his bare toes that have bore this beating storm.

“He’s here!” —- my sister’s brimming.

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Her good husband leans over my shoulder and whispers in my ear:

“6 hours, Ann — 6 hours non-stop, the whole labor, Rend Collective’s one song over and over again: “My Lighthouse, my Lighthouse, I will trust the promise, You will carry me safe to shore.”

And my sister draws the swaddled Little Flailer close: “Welcome to the outside, Little Eli David Rend.

Rend.

Of course —- “Oh that You would rend the heavens and come down,
  that the mountains might quake at Your presence…” Isaiah 64:1

Oh, that You would Rend the heavens, Rend the sky, Rend the storms, Rend our hearts —-

There is a breaking apart that lets things fall together.

There are storms that seem to rend us in two —- that are but the rending of the sky for God to draw nearer.

I hold heaven fresh Eli David Rend close, rock him close, us all rocked through storms. The midwife leaves a bag in a corner.

And at the bottom of it there is this blue sweater she knit, a blue hat — and a shirt she painted for this Little One we prayed through this squall that didn’t end.

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And there isn’t one of us who doesn’t brim and rain: You will carry me safe to shore.

Take that storm that about leered down and consumed us, take that blustering black that had us at the neck, take that monster storm that threatened marriage and family and life —- take that. We will trust the promise, You will carry us safe to shore.

There’s a Light house that promises to carry us safe to shore.

There’s a God who allows Himself to be a Light house to see us through storms.
And then God allows storms so we love the Light House long after the storms.

Eli David Rend sleeps in his mama’s arms who sleeps in his father’s arms — who sleeps in all their Father’s arms.

And there’s a resting that comes from this — that only comes from the knowing of heart-rending storms and of love and of lighthouses.

That One Love always shines and rends the storm —to bring all loves Home.

 

 

 

{Consider turning off music by clicking the speaker bar near the bottom of  the left margin?}

See more of The Rend Collective here

Photo credits: 24, 8

Related:
Scripture Memorization for the Rest of Us: #TheJesusProject #MemoryProject2014
Dear Weary and Overwhelmed Church, Parent, Kid [#JesusProject Set #2 of 24 Prints]
How to Keep Hoping for Things That Seem Impossible

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